Book Review – 44 Days: Iran and the Remaking of the World

For those who don’t already know, a favorite topic of mine is war and conflict photography. I say “favorite”, but I feel somewhat awkward calling it that… favorites are usually associated with happy things (kitties, butterflies, flowers, sunsets, puppies, etc). No, war and conflict don’t make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, but I do feel that photographs of such situations are vitally important.

Why are such photos important? Because they tell the story of things that are happening to fellow human beings around the world. Because the photographers capturing the images are risking their lives to tell that story. And because the photos are history in the making.

This latest book of images and recollections from photographer David Burnett is nothing short of amazing. National Geographic has a tendency to outdo themselves with the materials they publish, and this book is the latest in that trend.

See the end of this post for a chance to win a free copy of the book.

44 Days: Iran and the Remaking of the World (ISBN 978-1426205132) can be purchased directly from National Geographic or through


44 Days

44 Days: Iran and the Remaking of the World is a hardcover book containing 224 pages of text and photos (both color and b/w). It’s an average sized book, not too large or too small, measuring approximately 9×10.5″. Needless to say, the quality of the cover, binding, and paper are all outstanding. And the images contained within are equally outstanding.

44 Days

The book covers the history of the Iranian Revolution of 1979 when the Shah was overthrown and the Islamic Republic was born. The major parts of this event took place in a mere 44 days, and David Burnett was there to capture a big part of it. Everything from mass protests, funerals, killings, the fall and rise of power, and everything else associated with the revolution. I found it amazing that one person could capture so many aspects of this event, and I was amazed that he lived through it.

44 Days

Obviously, this is a wonderful piece of photojournalism, but it’s more than that. David’s recollections and thoughts are visible every few pages of the book. This is more than captions on the photos — this is a historic account of what happened day-by-day through the revolution. From start to finish, from city to city, David recounts his steps and recaps the news of things that were happening in Iran at the time.

44 Days

All in all, this is more than just a photo book — it’s a history book. And this is the type of history that isn’t taught in most classrooms.

David Burnett


David Burnett is a seasoned photojournalist with over 40 years of experience in the field. He has worked in over 75 countries and won many awards for his photojournalism. After his college days, he worked for Time and Life magazines on many assignments.

David’s work has taken him to the Vietnam War, the Iranian Revolution, and countless other historic situations. He has also photographed every American president from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama, in addition to reggae legend Bob Marley.

In 1975 David co-founded a new photo agency, Contact Press Images, in New York City. You can see more of his amazing work at his online portfolio.


44 Days

For me, this book was an eye opening experience. When I first got it, I scanned through the photos and I was fairly impressed at a first glance. But when I started reading the text, the photos went to a whole different level — they had a deep sense of meaning and importance. The book is also written in such a way that your interest in the subject is accelerated as you read through it.

On the flip side of being overwhelmed with amazing photojournalism and story telling, I couldn’t help but feel like a stereotypical “Dumb American”. This is a subject that I knew absolutely nothing about, a subject that is not taught in typical American high schools. The Iranian Revolution was such a huge piece of modern world history, and I’m a bit disappointed that it isn’t as well known as other historic events of the same caliber. And with the level of anti-American feelings during the revolution, I’m quite amazed that David survived the ordeal. He’s a trooper, that’s for sure.

A great book overall. If you enjoy history, photojournalism, and/or conflict photography, I’d say go ahead and buy this book.


The folks at National Geographic provided me with 2 extra copies of the book to give away here on the blog! I like doing contests for the freebies, but I also like the contests to be on topic with the material. This one presents a difficult situation because not many of us have been to Iran or photographed revolutions. So the assignment for this contest is to curate a gallery from other people’s photos.

Flickr recently announced a new feature called “Galleries”. This allows you to create a collection of up to 18 photos from other photographers, while adding your own comments as a curator. This is a perfect feature for us to test out!

Here’s how you can get a free copy of “44 Days”:

Create a Flickr Gallery on the topic of “Iran” and leave a link to your gallery in the comments below. That’s it! You can focus on sub-topics and genres within the boundaries of “Iran” — things like people, places, buildings, religion, food, clothing, etc. Whatever you can come up with! Here’s a quick gallery I put together titled “Faces of Iran“:

Faces of Iran

So that’s it! Get your gallery curated and drop a link before October 12, 2009. I’ll announce and present the winners (my favorites) sometime soon after.

10 thoughts on “Book Review – 44 Days: Iran and the Remaking of the World

  1. K. Praslowicz

    I flippen love David Burnett. One of the funnest things to ever happen to me on was to receive a private message from him on a forum after I mentioned I liked an image he had published in Time magazine. Nice guy.

  2. libeco

    The media cannot do without pictures, but there’s a downside to pictures (and for media in general). You THINK they tell THE story. They don’t, they tell A story, the story of the photographer.

    I’m saying this without knowing the book or the precise Iranian history, but I would never just believe everything I read in 1 book of 1 photographer.

    Sometimes it’s hard to forget that a person writes a story and a newspaper is filled with these stories.

    That said, some of the pictures look impressive.

  3. John Milleker

    Wow Brian, sorry I missed this the first time around. I accept your challenge and have created the following gallery.

    ‘Colors of Iran’

    As stated in the gallery description I took this opportunity to not only learn about galleries but also about Iran. When I picture Iran I only see dreary images from the country and I went out on Flickr to re-invent my view of this beautiful country.

    The gallery contains all of the images that I think show the beauty if this piece of the earth. Rich colors and wonderful landscapes. It’s amazing how much we differ as societies when we’ve got the same beauty and inspiration around us as Iran.

    Thank you for this challenge, it has really taught me something!

  4. Brian Auer Post author

    @K.Praslowicz That’s insane! He does seem like a good guy from what I’ve heard/read. I was supposed to interview him prior to publishing this review, but our schedules never lined up.

    @libeco A VERY good point — this book shows 1 story from 1 person’s experience. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting perspective that you won’t hear about from a text book. For me, the biggest eye-opener was learning about the deterioration of the relationship between America and Iran. I’ve always been aware of the fact that the two countries were in conflict, but I never really knew what caused it.

    @Charles @John @Jeremy Great work on those galleries! With just these first 3 entries, I’m excited to see how diverse they are. So far we have “Faces”, “Places”, “Colors”, and “Architecture”. Awesome!

  5. the_wolf_brigade

    Encased in my own ignorance.

    You mentioned that the photos took on deep meaning and importance and that you felt like a stereotypical “Dumb American”. On a personal level I admire the dedication of war photographers and find myself engrossed in the stories they relate.

    But as a “Dumb Australian” I find myself encased in my own ignorance. My gallery highlights some of my stereotypical views and attempts to open up assumptions for debate.

    I was moved through it’s creation, and I hope others will be too.

  6. Pingback: (Flickr) Galleries of Iran

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